Five top tips for ethical working

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Maintaining a high standard of ethical behaviour is important for any organisation, while for accountancy and finance professionals, ethics is something that is outlined within many professional industry bodies’ codes of conduct.

Ethical principles may differ slightly; however, they are usually centred around integrity, objectivity, professional competence and due care, confidentiality and professional behaviour.

The definition of ethics is shaped by personal, societal and professional values, all of which are difficult to specify. Some stress the importance of society’s interests and others stress the interests of the individual. These conflicting viewpoints have dominated the discussion of ethics for a long time and may remain in the future.

Tip 1

Integrity is vital and accountants should be honest and open with clients about their financial information at all times. Accounting firms and businesses should adhere to their own codes of conduct, to ensure all employees act in a professional manner.

Good conduct is much more than just red tape – it is essential for your performance and good for business and can help boost your job satisfaction.

Tip 2

Objectivity means making sure there are not any cases of bias, or conflicts of interest when making professional judgments in the workplace.

In most cases, it is avoiding any emotional ties to making a decision, and is something that should be implemented across all seniority levels.

The objectivity principle states that accounting information and financial reporting should be independent and supported with unbiased evidence. This means that accounting information must be based on research and facts, not merely a preparer’s opinion

Tip 3

Maintain a high level of professional knowledge and acumen required to give a client or an employer correct advice.

This includes keeping on top of developments in practice and the sector, changes in technology, which will have an effect, as well as any legislation or technique changes.

Training exercises or relevant courses can all help equip employees with the best knowledge and advice.

Tip 4

Always respect the confidentiality of clients and colleagues, particularly when dealing with a high volume of sensitive information, which should not be disclosed to third parties without authority unless there is a legal or professional right to do so.

It is essential to respect the confidentiality of information acquired as a result of professional and business relationships and, therefore, not disclose any such information to third parties without proper and specific authority unless there is a legal or professional right or duty to disclose.

Never use the information for the personal advantage of the professional accountant or third parties.

Tip 5

Accounting and finance professionals should always comply with relevant laws and regulations, avoiding any action that discredits the profession.

It is in the best interest of all managers to ensure their teams adhere to company policies and are upholding high standards of ethical behaviour.

ACCA and ethics

ACCA considers professional values, ethics and governance as essential requirements for accountants, with all ACCA students and members being required to adhere to the body’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.

In addition, completion of the Ethics and Professional Skills module is a mandatory requirement for achieving ACCA membership. 

Access the Ethics and Professional Skills module from your myACCA account

This article was first published in Student Accountant

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